Texas Rangers: Ranking the Brightest Young Players to Watch
The Texas Rangers have some of best young talent at all levels of their organization.
Like Elvis Andrus, who won’t turn 26 until August and has established himself as the team’s franchise shortstop over the past few years.
He isn’t alone, however; some of the club’s top talent will be either making their debuts or getting a full-time gig for the first time. The players on this list are all under 25 years old and could potentially have an impact on the 2014 season.
Here are the Rangers’ brightest young players to watch.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com
5. Luke Jackson, RHP
Luke Jackson won’t be playing for the Rangers in April but has a shot down the road in 2014.
Jackson has one of the best shots because he could come up as a starter or reliever. He is a power pitcher with the ability to hit 98 mph and miss a lot of bats.
He struck out 134 hitters and had a 2.04 ERA in 128 innings between High-A and Double-A in 2013.
The 22-year-old may be a long shot to make the roster in 2014. A full year in Frisco would be beneficial, considering just 27 of the 128 innings last year came in Double-A. At the very least, Jackson would probably be called up in September when rosters expand to 40 players.
But if there is a void to be filled before roster expansion, Jackson should be one of the first to fill it.
4. Michael Choice, OF
The signing of Shin-Soo Choo hurt Michael Choice’s opportunity of acquiring the left field job for Texas.
However, there is still the opportunity of platooning as designated hitter with Mitch Moreland. He would hit against southpaws while Moreland took on the righties.
Even that opportunity is in jeopardy with the news about Nelson Cruz, who is apparently still in talks with the club. Either way, Choice will most likely find himself playing with Triple-A Round Rock when the new season begins.
The 24-year-old will be at spring training in Surprise, Ariz. If he can improve on his plate discipline and cut down on free swings, Choice could get plenty of major league plate appearances.
3. Martin Perez, LHP
Fresh off a 10-6 year, Martin Perez will be looking to go from start to finish in 2014.
He had an opportunity last year to do so but suffered a broken foreman during spring training. The 22-year-old made 20 starts for Texas last year, posting a 3.62 ERA in 124.1 innings while striking out 84. He finished sixth in the voting for AL Rookie of the Year.
There will be a little added pressure for Perez this season. The injury to Derek Holland will most likely push Perez into the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Yu Darvish. But it shouldn’t be too much of a problem with his fastball/changeup combination.
Perez will be fun to watch this year now that he has four months of MLB starts under his belt.
2. Rougned Odor, 2B
One of the Rangers’ top prospects will be present at spring training this year.
At just 20 years old, Rougned Odor will be getting some time in the Arizona sun as he prepares for his 2014 season. It will be interesting to see him splitting time with Jurickson Profar at second base, especially since Profar might not work out for a week with shoulder tendinitis.
Odor was a nightmare playing for Myrtle Beach and Frisco in 2013. He hit a collective .305 with 11 homers 41 doubles and stole 32 bases.
Like Jackson, Odor could see time when rosters expand. Minor league seasons end on the first of September.
Don’t expect to see Odor unless Profar doesn’t play well or hits the 60-day disabled list. However, the Rangers would most likely go to Odor over Luis Sardinas and Adam Rosales as long-term solutions.
1. Jurickson Profar, SS/2B
This is what everyone has been waiting for.
The logjam was cleared and Jurickson Profar will have a full-time job once the 2014 season starts.
However, as mentioned on the Odor slide, he is experiencing shoulder tendinitis and won’t be throwing or hitting for another week. It doesn’t sound too serious, and he should be able to recover quickly. The 21-year-old probably won’t play in every spring game, anyway.
As for being a bright star, Profar has been a highly touted prospect for about three years now. He was rated No. 1 by Baseball America and MLB.com before the 2013 campaign began.
Since he struggled through 81 games last year as a Ranger, his name hasn’t come up too much this offseason. As long as he can stay healthy, he can live up to the hype.
You can follow Trey on Twitter @ treydwarren
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